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Golf Etiquette for Beginners

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Do you remember when you first decided that you wanted to try playing golf? I do, my brother and I decided to take up golf on a Saturday when I was 18 after watching Tiger woods on TV. I went down to the local sporting goods store that afternoon and purchased a basic starter set of clubs and thus started my passion. My dad wasn’t really into golf so I got very basic pointers from him. Keep your head down, and let the club do the work were the ones that have stuck with me all these years.

It was my good friend Ryan who ended up teaching me most of what I know today. He helped me with my swing and grip and even made me play by all the rules. However it wasn’t until years later that I realized he had taught me something most people just starting out never get taught. He taught me the unwritten rules of golf etiquette.

No matter your skill level you can do your fellow playing partners and the game of golf a big favor by learning and following these six rules.

Rule One - Be on Time: Punctuality has always been valued in the work place, but did you know it is even more valued on the course? A golf course is a well-oiled machine and if you are late it can throw off tee times and pace of play for hours. If you want to hit balls on the range or maybe get some breakfast at the new course restaurant, please plan ahead and allow yourself plenty of time.

Rule Two – Pace of Play: Golf is a “leisure” sport, but that doesn’t mean that you can take as long as you want on every shot on every hole. Most courses say you should be able to play 18 holes in 4 ½ hours. That’s 15 min per hole. Be ready to hit when it is your turn. If you are a slower player then consider starting your pre shot routine while others are hitting. As long as your group is keeping up with the group in front of you then you will never get hassled by the marshal.

Rule Three – Play the Correct Tees: Golf is a very difficult sport, don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Courses are getting longer and longer, but that doesn’t mean you have to play from the back tees. No one is going to give you a hard time for playing forward tees and your golf game and blood pressure will thank you in the long run. If you are unsure what tees you should play, ask the starter or someone in the pro shop.

Rule Four – Be Quiet while Others Swing: Golf requires great concentration and focus. You can help do your part by lowering your voice or stop taking entirely while other people are hitting there ball. If you are in line of sight of the person playing you should also refrain from too much movement.

Rule Five – Replace Divots and Repair Ball Marks: This one hits home for any member of a public course. There is nothing more irritating than fixing others messes. A golf course is a place for everyone to enjoy and not just you. Think of it like camping…leave it the way you found it. Replace divots or fill them with seed if the course permits, and repair all ball marks on the greens. I always try to repair at least 5 ball marks on every green.

Rule Six – Don’t Stand on Putting Lines: This is the one most beginners either don’t know or don’t realize. When on the green the line from a player’s ball to the hole is sacred ground and should never be walked on. Do your best to walk around the line, and never through it. This may seem silly, but it is one rule of etiquette that bothers a lot of golfers.

These aren’t the only etiquette rules for golf, but it is a good starting place. I can promise if you implement these rules the next time you play, you and the others you play with will enjoy their round that much more.

PGA Pro Tip of the Week

We often question ourselves on how much pressure should be applied to the grip. This simple exercise will help golfers of any skill level find the ideal grip pressure. 

First, hold your club away from you with your arms extended. The butt-end (cap) of the club should be pointed directly down the ground. Let your left pinky finger (RH golfer) off the club.  If you feel pressure or some tension release from your hands, then you have too much pressure applied on the club.  Too much pressure does not allow the hands to be free and able to rotate properly through impact.  

If you feel no change in pressure when taking your pinky finger off the cub then you have the correct grip pressure.

Pro Tips are provided by PGA Class A Professional Jeff McMahon from Bellingham, WA.

Jeff has been a Class A Professional since 2005.  Jeff’s teaching philosophy is one that provides students the ability to enjoy their learning experience regardless of their golfing background. He focuses on fundamentals and principles and is able to adapt to any student’s needs.  For more information on how Jeff can help your golf game please email him at mcmahon@pga.com

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